In Hollywood, one show or movie can change your whole career. That’s exactly what happened to actress Dana Delany when she appeared on the television show “Moonlighting” back in 1985. Delany got the gig through Glenn Gordon Caron, the show’s creator, and now the two are working together again. Delany guest stars this week on a brand new episode of “Bull” on CBS as Assistant U.S. District Attorney Syliva Banner. Caron is writer on the show and Delany and the star of “Bull” Michael Weatherly have been friends for a long time, but this is the first time they are working together.
Delany chatted with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith about her fascinating career in Hollywood, why she wanted to be on “Bull” and why she wishes the fight for equality in entertainment started 40 years ago.
DJ Sixsmith: How did you get your start as an actress?
Dana Delany: That was a long time ago. I started to act when I was a kid. I came to New York after I graduated college and just started auditioning. I didn’t know anybody, I just did it.
DS: How did you go from auditioning in New York to being an actress who has had consistent work for several decades?
DD: Number one, I think you have to really want it. You have to have that feeling that you need to do it and can’t do anything else. You have to really love what you do. I still love it and I still get a kick out of it. I don’t like the business so much, but when I’m doing it, I love doing it.
DS: What don’t you like about the business?
DD: You have to deal with people. Everybody has opinions and you’re not going to please everybody. It’s just like any other business, you just have to keep your head down and keep at it.
DS: You make a guest appearance on the next episode of “Bull” as Assistant U.S. Attorney Sylvia Banner. Why did you want to play this role?
DD: There are two reasons I did this job. One was Michael Weatherly and the other was Glenn Gordon Caron. Michael and I are old friends and we’ve been wanting to work together for a while. We have a project that we’ve been wanting to do for years called Connecticut Psychos. We’re both from Connecticut and had similar upbringings in the wasp world of Connecticut. One day we will do that. I had sushi with Michael last summer in New York and he said “we got to get you on the show.” At that point, Glenn Gordon Caron had taken over and I don’t know if you know this, but he did “Moonlighting.” Glenn gave me a huge break when I was 29. He cast me in a role on “Moonlighting” and it really set my career off. The show was very hot at the time and it was a great part. I ended up getting a series from that, I got to play Magnum, P.I.’s fiancé and I got to date a rock star all from that one episode. It gave me a lot. When Glenn called and said “would you like to do this?” I said absolutely.
DS: You and Michael have been friends for a long time. What was the best part of finally working with him?
DD: It was really great for me to see what a great leader of the show Michael is. I’ve been the lead on a few TV shows myself and I know what a responsibility that is. You have to take it seriously and you have to be a positive force and I’ve seen the opposite happen. Michael is handling it so well. He has tireless energy, is always positive, always makes sure if everyone else is ok and keeps it fun. It was really nice to see him step into that position because he had been on “NCIS” in a supporting role. He obviously was very prepared to do this.
DS: “Moonlighting” changed your career. What are some of the proudest moments of your career?
DD: I’ve had one of those careers where I had early success. It’s a funny thing because it happened to a few people. When you’ve had early success, I did “China Beach” when I was 30, you’re always trying to recreate that in some way. That’s hard and sometimes you can’t recreate what it was. What I got from that role was the responsibility you have an actor, what you put out there resonates. You have to be really aware of how it is going affect other people. That’s created a quest for me for the rest of my career to choose things carefully. Sometimes too carefully, sometimes I’ve been a little too precious about it. I’m very aware of the impact that acting and entertainment has on the world.
DS: Going off of that. What do you think of the impact your colleagues have made with the #TimesUp and #MeToo movement?
DD: I think it’s great. I think it’s about time, time is up. I’m happy because women need to be paid as much as men. You can’t accept sexual harassment on the set. I’ve been working for a long time, I’ve had my experience with that. I wish this movement could’ve been 40 years ago. We are where we are now.
DS: Finally, what can people expect when they tune into “Bull” on Tuesday?
DD: This episode is an interesting episode. I have to give Glenn Gordon Caron the credit for that. It’s dealing with the issue that’s happening right now in legalizing pot. It’s very timely in federal versus state law. As we know, Jeff Sessions has said he would fight that federally. He would fight marijuana being legal federally. My character Sylvia Banner, Assistant U.S. Attorney, is taking that point of few and says it is illegal federally and we need to uphold that. So, it’s an interesting argument.
Watch “Bull” on CBS Tuesdays at 9pm EST/PST.